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Danville Article–November 15, 2009 about old Lee Hall and other renovations

Moving forward: KSD in Boyle making small changes, waiting for bigger ones

slaun@amnews.com
November 14, 2009

As Kentucky School for the Deaf plans to lobby the legislature for money to revamp its campus, three projects are already getting underway.

Old Lee Hall on Third Street will be demolished soon; Brady Hall on Second Street is undergoing a renovation; and an energy conservation project will start this week.

The long-term process includes moving KSD’s campus to one side of Second Street. There’s no timeline for when that move could be complete, especially without funding help from the state for construction projects, but Campus Manager Bill Melton said it is among KSD’s goals.

In 2004, a community task force was established to develop a comprehensive plan for renovating and updating the campus, but five years later, nothing has happened on the plan. Melton said KSD requests money from the General Assembly to begin work on the plan, but so far no money for construction has been awarded to the school.

During the 2010 legislative session, Melton intends to ask for $19.35 million for Phase 1 of construction projects that include a new elementary school, dining hall and student center, along with renovations to Middleton Hall, a middle and high school boys dorm. Because of increased cost, this is up from about the $15 million Melton asked for during previous legislative sessions.

He also is asking for $8.5 million to update and modernize many of the buildings’ HVAC systems.

The plan also calls for the number of buildings on campus to be reduced and much of the land to be sold.

KSD’s campus sits on about 170 acres. This school year, there are 140 students in preschool through 12th grade, Melton said. At one time, all of that space was necessary, but now the school could be operated on about 60 acres, while still maintaining the beauty of the campus, Melton said.

Currently, projects are under way to update and beautify the campus, such as demolition of Old Lee Hall, renovation of Brady Hall and an energy conservation project in many of the buildings.

Old Lee Hall

Old Lee Hall, which faces Third Street, was built in 1931 and used for classroom instruction until 1979. Since then, it has been used mostly for storage.

The building is beyond repair at this point, and work to remove the roof began last week to remove asbestos.

Bids will be taken for the demolition, and the cost won’t be known until then. Melton hopes the building will be torn down within a month.

After the site is cleared, it will be turned into green space. Under the comprehensive plan, it could be sold in the future.

Rhonda Bodner, secretary for the outreach department, said she hates to see Old Lee Hall torn down, but it has been a problem for her to make sure people don’t go inside the building.

KSD Athletics Director Billy Lange said it’s sad for the building to come down and he wishes there was a way the building could be saved.

“Many KSD alumni have good memories in that building,” he said.

Lange wishes it had been renovated years ago when it would’ve been more cost effective for the state. Now, it would cost millions, making demolition a better option.

“The icon of KSD will be missed by all of us at KSD,” he said.

Melton said it’s a shame to see the building come down, but it has served its purpose and is now an eyesore.

“It was a great building in its day,” he said.

Brady Hall

Brady Hall houses various KSD offices, including the health center, technology department and outreach services. It’s also a dorm for middle and high school girls.

Brady Hall is mostly undergoing a cosmetic renovation to update the building and make it more open. The renovations will cost about $500,000, Melton said. The renovation is scheduled to be complete in January.

The renovation has involved drilling and breaking down columns and stairs on both the front and back of the building.

Fran Hardin, director of outreach services, said construction workers alternate where they work so there is downtime for employees. Work ends at 4 p.m., so students who live in the dorm haven’t been affected much by the noise.

Materials taken off the building will be recycled, said Mike Steigerwald, an operations manager with MCM demolition. They will be broken down and used for other construction projects.

Steigerwald said materials used to be sent to a landfill when buildings were renovated or demolished. Now, products are being reused and go back into helping the environment.

“We’re trying to be good stewards of the environment,” Melton said.

Energy Conservation

Energy saving measures will begin as early as Monday in many of the buildings on campus. A $200,000 lighting project includes replacing lights in seven of KSD’s buildings for more energy-efficient ones.

The project is projected to save KSD about $26,000 a year.

Melton said if KSD were to do all of the energy conservation projects that were recommended, savings would total about $100,000 a year. For now, however, KSD is focusing on lighting, water conservation and vending machine projects that will conserve energy in the buildings most used by students and staff.

Looking to the future

Further changes and upgrades to KSD include renovating the pool which was closed in December 2008 for being non-compliant with a federal law requiring covers to be placed over the drains.

KSD’s pool had 24-inch drains, and at the time the law was enacted, covers weren’t made that were large enough to cover the drains.

Melton said once the drain covers were purchased, other problems were found, including a leaking pipe. The pool will remain closed until problems are fixed and the pool is repainted. Melton doesn’t know when that will be.

Most of KSD’s projects must be funded by the state. Some things can be done through the state’s own operational budget, but without a bonding capacity, KSD can’t do many of its own projects and continues to rely on the state for support.

Bodner would like to see the state fund a new elementary school and a cafeteria for elementary, middle and high school students. She knows it will take time to sell the land and get the money that’s needed.

KSD is spread out over so much land, and even though it offers a beautiful view, Melton said having the campus on a smaller area would be better.

“It’s pretty,” Melton said, “But when you’re moving kids around — we’d like to be closer together.”

Copyright: AMNews.com 2009